Period poverty: Innovative bill could make sanitary products free

As politician Monica Lennon launches a groundbreaking bill to make sanitary products free in Scotland, The Big Issue asks if this is the step to finally end period poverty once and for all

An end to period poverty in Scotland is now a step closer, as a politician launches a groundbreaking bill to make sanitary products free for all women.

Introduced by Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon, the legislation would place a duty on Scottish ministers to introduce a universal system of free sanitary products across the country. It would also require all schools, colleges and universities to provide free sanitary products for students.

Following review, these measures could be extended to include other organisations in the future. Lennon told The Big Issue that it is “time for government to take responsibility” for both the health issues and social barriers that women can face.

No one should have to experience the indignity of having to go without vital sanitary products they simply cannot afford

If successful the bill could end period inequality in Scotland, and it has been welcomed by many organisations and charities.

“Period poverty is a human rights issue. Having proper access to sanitary products is an essential element of human dignity and impacts on the ability to access other rights such as education, leisure and cultural activities”, said Bruce Adamson, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner.

Shuwanna Aaron, NUS Scotland Women’s Officer, added: “No one should have to experience the indignity of having to go without vital sanitary products they simply cannot afford and it’s important to remember that as well as impacting women, period poverty can also affect non binary people and members of the trans community.”

Last week, a pilot scheme launched in Aberdeen with £42,500 backing from the Scottish Government. The scheme targeted the city’s regeneration areas and hoped to reach 1,000 women and help them gain access to free sanitary products.

Alongside Scottish Labour’s new bill, the scheme indicates Scotland’s potential to be a global leader in the fight against period poverty.

In a column written for The Big Issue, Lennon outlines the importance of these changes in creating a more equal society and explains why she’s campaigned so hard for it.